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I arrive at the Ultimate Madhouse. I mean, home. When I shut the door, Elly, my three-year-old niece, runs through the corridor with her arms in the air and naked except for her nappy - thanks God, at least she has something on. Mom runs after her two seconds later, with the phone between her ear and her shoulder and a plate in her hands.
“Wait a moment dear… Elly! Come here, please! Do not run, my love!”
“I don’t like it! It’s shit!”
“Elly, this’s not shit…!” And then is when Mom sees me – fuck – and her eyes shine of happiness. “Oh, Ellen! Thanks God you’re already home. Would you make her eat this?” And she gives me the plate before I can say a word and then turns back to the kitchen. “Hello, darling? Yeah, I’m back…”
I never understand why I always end up with some disgusting and stinky stuff in my hands.
Mom is a very important business woman in the capital who moved here with her husband looking for relax and peace even if, since mobile phones were invented, that’s so hard to find anywhere. She’s always phoning someone and every conversation she has is vital – she also likes to say “my work could depend on this phone call, Ellen” or “the company falters and I really need to have this conversation now”. When she’s at home she’s always locked up in her room and, if she ever comes out –for example, if she has to look after the little one, who’s her granddaughter – she always does stuff like this: she holds the phone somehow and runs after the Tasmanian Devil to catch it.
That’s till I come back home, of course. I am like Superman or whatever to her. If I’d get paid every time I babysit here, nowadays I wouldn’t have to live here, I actually could have bought a castle in the middle of the fields and I’d had a butler called Cristóbal who would prepare mint teas constantly to me.
I manage to take off my bag without touching it, cause I already have some green thing in my hands and I don’t wanna know what is it. I’m not surprised the girl doesn’t wanna eat it, I wouldn’t neither. I’m sure mom prepared it, because something like this can only haven been cooked by her.
I’ve just arrived and I already have to play the Find The Wild Little Creature game with Elly. Joy and happiness to everybody.
I take a deep breath and walk in.
“Elly... Where are you, Elly? Come on dear… Come out, come on… Cutie…”
“You cannot see me.” I turn my head and I see a speaking ponytail behind the sofa. I sigh with relief; it’s not always this easy to find out where behind the furniture has she decided to hide.
Step two: pretend that you haven’t seen her.
“Oh, where are you, Elly? I can’t possibly find you.”
“Don’t see me, you don’t see me” she sings. I’d bet an arm that she’s covering her eyes. Poor cute little creature.
“Let’s make a deal. When I find you, you eat this thing. Okay?”
“I don’t like it, it’s shit.”
“It’s just if I find you, okay? I don’t know where are you, it’s sooo hard to discover…”
“Okay.” And she laughs in that way it sounds like “hihihi”, which is kinda disturbing.
I’m so serious, every single time she laughs like this, almost evil, it frightens me. I know so much about her usual psychopath attacks. The doctor said that she was just a very active kid, but I do not agree with that; once she throw a fork to me while she laughed like that and the she jumped off from the highchair to the floor and left running. Sometimes it looks like she’s possessed and, man, that’s scary, especially when I’m home alone with her. Which’s not so often, because I’m a coward by nature, but usually enough to keep some respect to my niece. Mom always calls me lazy and “not so participatory in family dynamics” (of course Mom, because you participate so much, I forgot), but, seriously, I can’t believe she doesn’t understand me. I can’t believe she hasn’t seen the alien-thing in live.
I spend two whole minutes acting like if I was really looking for her, but then I get tired and I jump behind the couch to grab her. She starts to yell and scream and cry, and she shakes and hits my chest with her head. When I say something about a gift, she stops, sits on the floor and looks at me with hate on her big eyes. Then, that’s when I have to repeat what I said about the gift and she eats the whole gelatinous green revolting thing.
It works like this everyday, yeah.
Mom walks in the right moment. She’s so smart and knows when’s the exact perfect moment to appear. But I’m not stupid. She smirks to me with the fucking phone on her ear and makes thumbs up to me. I smirk to her back and, since that annoyed me, I let the beast go free. Elly runs to the hall screaming like she’s in war. Mom’s eyes widen and then she kills me with them. Or at least she wishes she could do that. I smile and shrug like I’m saying “I’m an angel, mommy!”.
When I climb up the stairs to my room, I say “You should talk with your other daughter, the fornicator.”
‘Cause, of course, Leny, my so-mature and independent bid sister (monster’s mother, by the way) can’t come an hour earlier to take care of her little wild animal.
Elly is a slip my sister had when she was eighteen years old. It’s so mean to say it that way, and I would never say that to her (I mean Elly, not Leny; I say it to Leny quite a lot), but she has to admit it. Okay, it’s not like my sister is a slut o something like that, she had a boyfriend, but then the boy ended up being an asshole and he left when she was fat and pregnant and everything. Her pregnancy was one of the biggest arguments my parents have had (oh, I’ll talk about that later, but just saying, you could make a series about their dramas), but she decided to have the baby anyway, which I thought was brave and very responsible. Good for her, I guess… Even if everything could be so much better if the kid wasn’t allergic to sunlight, went mad every time she touches water and could be fed after midnight.
As I’m climbing up the stairs I step on something splashy and sticky and, when I try to take another step, I can’t unstick my foot from it, so I take it of my shoe and throw it back. Mom yells at me because it might have hit her. I unhear her and run upstairs.
I remove my jacket and sigh. I hope I have at least twenty minutes before she needs me again. I lay on my bed and, just a moment after that, the phone starts ringing (it is between my sheets for some reason) and I growl, tired.
“What?” I answer.
“Elle? It’s me, Leny. I’m coming home. Be patient.”
“Why do porn clubs close so early, lately? It’s almost four o’clock…”
It’s not really a porn club, but I like to make her mad. She deserves it.
“Okay Ellen, enough now.”
“Enough what? Oh, by the way; this morning Elly decided to try the fan trick while having breakfast. It’s on the kitchen since then. Mom hasn’t cleaned it. It’s all dry now. I think I’m gonna call it... The Elly-copter. With capital E.
“Helicopter, Ellen. You write that with an H.”
“No, I mean, Elly and copter, you know? Because of Elly…. She’s the only living thing who can do that, I belive. The walls are so artistic now.”
“Shit. Could you…?”
“Nope. Your child, your cleaning. I won’t take care of the monster that came out from your vagi...”
“You’re all love, Elle. Hey, I’m leaving you. Wait there”.
“Not going anywhere, that’s for sure...”
I arrive home after high school and my brother jumps on my way to the kitchen too excited. “We’re going to the city this weekend! I can’t believe we’re leaving this black hole for once…”
“This black hole” is the village where we live, a few miles from the city. It isn’t that bad, really, it’s quite big for a village, but my little brother likes to complain. Joe loves going to visit our aunt and uncle because of where they live, that’s all, but I don’t ‘cause that means being there alone for a day or two, locked up over theirs and listening my mother and my aunt chatting about nothing.
I take off my bag. Joe repeats twice what he just said and I sigh. I don’t know what the hell does this boy take for breakfast, but he’s always overexcited.
“Do I have to go?”
He looks so disappointed, but he hides it rapidly and frowns. “Of course not, you can stay here with Not-My-Gf-Ellen. I already knew you wouldn’t want to come…”
I’m so used to his attempts of making me mad with that “Not-My-Gf-Ellen” thing. I suppose he has to try, since he’s the little brother and he was made to annoy the hell out of me, but he also has to understand that he’s just 11 and I lead the game here.
“Awesome, then”, I say. I open the fridge and take the Coke.
“I knew it”, he insists. “Hey, don’t drink form the bottle you gross.”
“What, you’re gonna tell Mom if I do?” I drink and he growls. “Where is she, by the way?”
“Shopping, I guess? She made you lunch.”
“Did you eat yet?”
“Sure I did, I wasn’t waiting for you. I bet you were chatting with Not-My-Gf-Ellen and I didn’t want to starve in here, thank you very much”. He shrugs.
“I should tell Ellen about how mucho you talk about her at home. She’d sure feel flattered, you know.”
“Whatever you say. I’m on the couch playing Nintendo. Grandpa’s on the diner, by the way.” And like that, he leaves the kitchen.
I walk in the dinner. My grandfather’s bend back leans against the chair’s back. I can’t see his face now, but I think he looks so focused on what he’s doing – whatever that is. The fact is that I know he’s somewhere else now, a lot further, a lot higher. Somewhere we barely can reach.
“Hey, Granp, how’re you feeling?” I say, tapping his shoulder.
He raises his head and smiles at me.
“Hello, Timothy”. He doesn’t say that, not really, but my real name. It’s his name, too. I smile when I hear it, ‘cause that means that he still knows me. Besides, I wouldn’t let another person call me that. “You’re such a big boy now. Did you grow up lately?”, he asks.
“Sure, grandpa. I’m still growing up everyday. Are you hungry?”
“Yes, but I can’t reach the fork”. The fork is on his hand.
I try a light smirk and sit next to him. He looks carefully at every single move I make and then, he grins.
“The fork’s here, take it.” I start feeding him by moving his own hand from the plate to his mouth until he understands how it works and does it himself. “Is it good? Would you prefer a spoon?”
“Thank you”. He chews slowly and stares with those blue and bright eyes. “How was your day?”
“It was fine. I had class and then came back with Ellen. What about you?”
“Very good. Who’s Ellen?”
“A friend of mine.”
“The one with ponytails?”
“Yes. Do you remember her?”
“Yes, of course, my boy. It’s been long since she doesn’t come over, isn’t it?”
“Sure, Granp. I can call her whenever you want, if you’d like that.”
“Thank you, son. I liked the way she called her pet… What was the name again?”
“Rabbird.” That was ages ago. Ellen doesn’t mix animals since she was 11 or 12. “’Cause it was a rabbit yellow like a bird, do you remember?”
“Yes, that’s right. Would you bring me some water, my dear?”
He finishes and I help him going to the living room. Joe goes to his room immediately and, when Granp is already sitting and watching TV, I come back to the kitchen.
Mi phone rings. I check it. It’s a message. No one send me the old kind of messages but Ellen.
Pick me up or I’ll curse you. Please? –E
I smile and look out the window. I have to bend a lot to see her window, that’s the one on the attic. She’s waiting me there, dangerously peering and grinning brightly. She starts moving her arms and that makes me laugh. She’s so stupid. “You’re gonna fall, you idiot!”, I think. Suddenly, she disappears.
It’s been less than an hour since we don’t see each other, but I already want to get out of here. I love my grandfather, but I feel so sad and useless whenever I’m with him… Something Ellen knows how to rub off of me.
There’s a huge tree on my back yard. My father built a tree house on it then we just arrived here, ten years ago, and my brother was just a baby so I couldn’t play with him yet. It’s been there all my life and I can’t ever imagine the yard without it on it. There are some planks for climbing up that my brother loves to break - a revenge because I never let him come in while I do let Ellen.
There’re not much room in here for the two of us, but we don’t mind to be too tight. Besides, the important thing here is the memories of when we were kids. She arrives a few minutes after, letting me see her orange-golden hair before her red face. Her grey eyes bright at the sight of me and then I see her big smile greeting me.
She sits next to me and leans her head on my shoulder.
“Thanks, TJ. If I smell like shit, tell me.”
“You smell good. Well, it’s a regular smell.”
“Uff, okay. My mother shouldn’t give caffeine to animals so… so… so Elly. It’s a craziness with her. Do you know what did she do? The yogurt thing again.”
“Did she?” She nods and I laugh, but not too mucho. Ellen looks at me and raises one eyebrow.
“Are you alright?” she asks.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Just had a lunch with my grandfather.” And when I say ‘grandfather’, she automatically pouts.
“Oh. Is he alright?”
“Yes, as always. Disoriented. He was amazed of me being so tall… and kinda lost. Regular stuff, nothing new.”
She pats my back and smiles at me sweetly.
“I offer you vanilla ice cream with cookies. It’s Leny’s, but I would steal it from her for you. Wht do you say? Would that cheer you up?”
“Ellen, I didn’t even eat yet.”
“Then it’ll be your lunch. I pay. but you have to climb the stairs fast and silently, my mother’s working and Elly just fell asleep. Come on, stand up.”